Have you heard the term sextortion? In this age of social media and constantly changing technology, we’re also constantly getting new buzzwords to describe new phenomena brought on by technology. Sextortion is one of those words, and as parents, you need to know what it means. Sextortion, as defined by the website wearethorn.org is “the threat to reveal intimate images to get you to do something you don’t want to do.”
Like it or not, a lot of our kids will face sextortion. I spend a lot of time writing articles begging parents not to give their kids phones with cameras on them and social media access because the truth is, many times our kids can’t handle the responsibility and can’t control their impulses to do something that’s not very smart. I’m not prejudiced against teenagers or tweens — science says their brains simply aren’t developed enough yet.
I love the way the nonprofit Thorn, whose aim is to stop sextortion, has put together this short video that is not an all graphic and explains to kids what they may get themselves into if they send nude images, and also how to stop it. This is the best 90 seconds you’ll spend all day and you absolutely should show it to your children if they have phones with cameras on them. They need to know that even if they get themselves into this mess, there IS a way out, and they do not have to succumb to sextortion!!!
Stop Sextortion Video
Honestly parents, the way to prevent this from happening is to talk to your kids about it long before it ever has the possibility of happening. But ALSO!!! Let them know that if they do get themselves into trouble with nude or partially clothed pictures of themselves, that you have their back and you are going to help them out of that situation no matter what.
If you really think that they would never talk to you about this, then please point them to Thorn. This organization is a fabulous resource for kids and even has confidential counselors that will talk kids through it. Their website says:
Text ‘THORN’ to 741741 and immediately speak with a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. Here’s how it works. Tell someone. A close friend, teacher, counselor, or parent. Sextortion sucks, and people going through it are usually pretty scared to tell their friends. Today, right now, tell your closest friends if this ever happens to them, you’ll be there, you won’t judge, you have their back!
Thorn also offers other tips on how to act if you become the victim of sextortion, including:
- If you’re asked to share something that makes you uncomfortable, you have a right to say no, even if you already shared something with them before.
- Tips on reporting sextortion into tech companies to have images images removed, especially if you are under 18.
- Never forwarding anyone else’s pics
- How to help a friend who is going through sextortion
Are you hearing me, parents?? This is a thing and it’s our responsibility to let our kids know about it so they can be fully informed before they decide whether or not to send that pic.
For more about stopping this terrible phenomenon, please, please, please visit wearethorn.org/stopsextortion.